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Prison officers protest across Qld amid calls for better protection

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Prison officers have walked off the job at two major local correctional centres in protest over last week's attack on officers at Borallon demanding a safer work environment.

The strike action at the Borallon Correctional Centre at Ipswich and the Brisbane Correctional Centre at Wacol follows a union meeting on the unsafe practices in prisons this morning.

It comes a week after a violent attack by an inmate on two prison officers at the Borallon facility, which saw one of the officers suffering a cut to his head. Both officers are okay.

Borallon prisoner officer and Together Union delegate Ben Turnbull says overcrowding is the biggest issue at Borallon, with rumours of increasing to triple-up cells a concern.

"Everyday across the state, average men and women, we go behind the razor wire and we look after some of the most difficult dangerous people within our society," Mr Turnbull says.

"We do that with a sense of pride because we do believe we are helping keep our community safe."

Michael Thomas from the Together Union says that Queensland prisons have been in crisis for some time now.

"We currently have got over 10,000 people incarcerated, which is the highest it has ever been," he says.

"Every prison is doubled up in cells that are made for one prisoner and we are getting to a point now that a triple up is a realistic option."

Mr Thomas says overcrowding is resulting in various assaults including: prisoner on prisoner, prisoner on staff and those sort of safety issues have driven its members to hold a series of meetings around the state.

"A number of centres around the state, their view is it is simply unsafe to work in prisons as they are and the government needs to move to restore safety in prisons" he says.

In a statement, Queensland Corrective Services denies any need to move to triple-up sites.

"Internal projections show no indication that we will reach a point requiring triple up in the near future," the statement reads.

"Prisoner numbers at individual centres are managed by moving prisoners across the system, as is already happening with the new infrastructure coming on line at Capricornia Correctional Centre.

"Longer term, capacity will be further boosted a new 1000-bed prison being built near Gatton, which will be operational in 2023-2024."

Queensland Corrective Services confirmed some correctional centres had a delayed unlock this morning due to off-site officer meetings discussing a range of issues.

Corrections said contingency planning were in place to ensure the safety and security of the prison during the meeting, including an emergency response capability, and to ensure that prisoners receive meals and medications as necessary.

"QCS custodial officers are the best trained and resourced in Australasia, and we take a collaborative and evidence-based approach to ensure we are providing the safest possible working environments for our officers," a spokesperson said.

 

Images: Borallon Correctional Centre, AAP/Jono Searle